Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Christmas Gifts For Men with House of Fraser

It's that time of year again and we're all out buying Christmas gifts.  I absolutely love Christmas shopping. I know a lot of people find it stressful, but I'm not one of them! I love picking gifts for family and friends and I'd like to think I have good taste and instincts when it comes to gifting.

However, there is one person I find it extremely difficult to choose gifts for. My partner. The problem is that he never asks for anything specifically and since none of his hobbies need special equipment or accessories he neither needs nor wants ANYTHING. Needless to say it's immensely frustrating and every Christmas I'm left scratching my head at what to give him!

So when I was challenged by House of Fraser to find a wonderful gift for the man in my life I was thrilled! House of Fraser offer a wide range of gifts to suit all tastes, and I decided to take a look at some of the male grooming sets they have available. What better gift for the man who has everything than a nice grooming kit to pamper himself with?

After a good bit of browsing, and oohing and ahhhing over all the lovely products available I finally opted for the Clinique Great Skin For Him Gift Set.

This beautifully presented little set is just perfect for my partner David. It covers everything from cleansing to shaving & moisturising too. There's a lovely exfoliator which is perfect for smoothing out that rough, dry winter weather-beaten skin and even better, an Aloe shave gel to reduce the risk of razor burn. Add to that a cooling post shave soother and a wonderful anti age moisturiser and you have the perfect winter gift. Everything a man could need to keep his skin in top condition. Definitely a must have considering the recent weather here in Scotland!

All the products are beautifully scented and are of the usual quality you'd expect from a brand like Clinique. I wasn't sure what to expect from their men's skincare if I'm honest, but I'd say it's just as luxurious as their ladies products. I definitely think David will be repurchasing these products when he finally runs out!

So if you're like me, and having a tough time finding a great present for your partner, your brother or even your dad I strongly recommend a peek at House of Fraser's gift selection. I even have a few other ideas to get you started. Check out these fantastic gifts...

Calvin Klein Eternity for Men EDT Gift Set (Was £33 now £26.40)

Kiehls Ultimate Man Kit (Was £29.50 now £25.07)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Potty Training - Take Two!

A while ago I posted about potty training Holly. I said I was going to persevere and try going cold turkey from nappies. Well. It didn't work. Holly simply didn't get it yet. Try as I might to explain it to her, show her (yes I showed her), bribe her and 101 other methods to get her peeing in the potty and nappy free they all failed. I had to accept she wasn't ready. So we gave up. What else could we do but wait and try again? It simply wasn't worth the stress, for Holly or for us as parents.

So we've given it some time and tried again, and guess what? She's ready! This time we did the same thing. No more nappies. However, since Holly wasn't exactly thrilled by the potty last time but always seemed interested in the toilet we decided to try using a toilet step instead of the potty. So here's what happened...


Holly got her Peppa Pig pants on in the morning. She held in her pee from 8am until 2pm then had an accident in her pants. I wasn't feeling very hopeful at this point but we got cleaned up and I explained that it was perfectly ok to have accidents and sometimes they just happen. She was quite happy and went on about her day. She asked for the toilet later that day, but was too late and was already peeing by the time we got to the bathroom. We got cleaned up again and I praised her for asking to use the toilet which made her very happy. Then it was bedtime.


Half a pee on the toilet. She asked to go, but again was dribbling by the time she got on. So half a pee on the floor half in toilet. Again I praised Holly and she was very happy about being "a big girl" and using the toilet. Another couple of accidents /half pees. Then finally a full pee on the toilet. Lots of praise and excited jumping up and down from us both.


All pee now in the toilet. We no longer need to ask Holly if she needs the toilet as she tells us! Still poo accidents but definitely think we've made great progress in just a few days.


Still no pee accidents, and Holly even managed a nap without a nappy on. Went out shopping nappy free but she didn't need a pee when out and stayed dry too. A good day. One poo in pants accident.


Holly asks too poo in the toilet. Does her poo! Success!

It's been over a week now and Holly seems to have gotten the hang of it really well. Hopefully things continue this way and we can attempt no nappy at night too! If you had asked me a few weeks ago if I thought Holly would have been toilet trained so easily I would have said absolutely not! Clearly she was just ready this time. I really think swapping from the potty to using a toilet step helped too. The one we have is the Keter Toilet Trainer from Argos. It fits on all of our toilets at home and is lightweight and very portable. I'd definitely recommend it if you want to toilet train using the toilet instead of a potty. So what have your toilet training experiences been like?

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Pay As You Go from Three - Nokia Lumia 520 Review

It's a long time since I've used as Pay As You Go mobile phone. I think I must have been a teenager at the time, so well over 13 years ago (gosh I'm getting old)! So when I was offered the opportunity to review the Nokia Lumia 520, one of the many available Pay As You Go phones on Three I was intrigued to find out how much had changed since my days as a Pay As You Go user.

The Phone - Nokia Lumia 520 

To be perfectly honest, my expectations weren't very high. In the past I've found that the quality of Pay As You Go mobiles isn't usually the greatest unless you can afford to spend a lot upfront buying one of the better models. I had expected that would still be the case, but the Nokia 520 easily exceeded those expectations.

The Nokia Lumia is a very attractive handset. I received it in black and it looks very sleek, but the phone is also available in an impressive range of vibrant colours from pillar box red to cyan blue. It feels sturdy in hand, not flimsy or cheap despite how slim the phone is, and I was impressed by the screen size (4 inch - 400 x 800). I found the screen resolution to be better than I expected, all images on the phone are very clear for the screen size.

The touch screen is beautifully responsive and I haven't had any issues using it so far. I also found out through a little bit of online research  that the touch screen on the Nokia Lumia 520 works even if you're wearing gloves! I did actually try this, and I can confirm it's true! Certainly good to know for the winter months. I think this is an impressive feature considering the affordable price point of this handset. The only part of the handset I was slightly disappointed in was the lack of a flash for the rear facing camera. There isn't a front facing camera either, so this might be a bit of a dealbreaker for those who love taking selfies. However, if you do still snap a few too many pics the phone can easily store them, since the phone can accommodate an impressive 64GB microSD card.

So what's my overall impression of the handset? Easy to use and well designed. A big thumbs up!

As someone who is used to using android and apple devices (I have both),  using a Windows phone was a bit of an eye opener for me. Initially I was a bit daunted by the set up, but it took just a few hours until I was familiar with the apps and the phone. It really doesn't take long to get to grips with this phone, even if you aren't very tech savvy, as the menus are pretty easy to navigate.

Features of the phone I was particularly impressed by were the inclusion of Microsoft Office and OneNote. The microsoft Office app lets you create, view and edit documents, presentations and even spreadsheets on your mobile.

I also liked the way social media is set up on this phone.  It's quite straightforward and easy to navigate.  Simply access the People app, this gives you an alphabetical list of all your contacts (including thumbnails).
Tapping on someone brings up all their information – from email and phone number right through to birthday or address (if you have it stored of course).

Swipe right from the contacts page and you'll access the 'history' screen, this shows all communications between you as well as their recent posts and updates on social networks.
Swiping to the left will take you to a 'what's new' screen, which combines accounts like Twitter and Facebook into a single feed, displaying recent activity without having to use a separate app. As someone who spends a lot of time using social media, this set up is really great for me. It saves me time going between different apps to keep up with everyone!

I could go on and tell you more about  the phones features but I don't want to bore you! So I'll just wrap it up and say that this Windows phone really has some great apps and features, the bonus being that they are all easy to use! All round, this is a great phone for the price.

Pay As You Go

Along with the Nokia Lumia 520 handset, I was given a Pay As You Go SIM card to try out. I'm really impressed by the prices on Three's Pay As You Go service. With calls charged at only 3p per minute, 2p per text and 1p per MB of data it's a very affordable option if you're looking for an alternative to a contract. I seem to remember Pay As You Go prices being much higher and maybe they still are on other networks, but not on Three!

Topping up your mobile is easy too. You can:

  • Buy a top of voucher at the Supermarket, petrol station or any other shops where you see the Top Up sign displayed.
  •  Top Up using the Three App (available free on iTunes or Google Play)
  •  Top Up at the ATM (Top Ups available at 1000's of ATM's across the UK)

 I really did enjoy using the Nokia Lumia 520, it's a good affordable mobile with lots of fantastic features and would be ideal for anyone looking for a great Pay As You Go deal with Three. I don't think I'm quite ready to switch from my Three contract yet, but it is something I might be more willing to consider in the future given how affordable and flexible the options are.

*I received this product for the purpose of review.  All views and opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Father's Day Gifts - Dove Men + Care & Radox

As you know, Father's Day is fast approaching and I've been scratching my head wondering what gifts Holly and I could give to her Daddy. He really isn't one for showy or expensive gifts and always gives us a telling off if he thinks we've gone overboard! So the search was on to find something he would enjoy using that didn't break the bank either! 

Whether he's pottering about in the garden (it's his pride and joy) or at his weekly kick about at the 5-a-side football pitch, Holly's Daddy really enjoys coming home to a warm bath or nice refreshing shower.

That's why I think Radox and Dove Men + Care products would make really affordable gifts for any Dad this Father's Day. 

Radox Muscle Therapy Bath Soak (RRP £2.31) is great for soothing those tired muscles after a day of sports or outdoor activity. There's also Radox Stress Relief Bath Soak (RRP £2.31), ideal for relaxing after a busy day at work.  Is dad more of a shower man? Then for an invigorating shower why not treat dad to some Radox For Men (RRP £2.15)?  

TOP TIP - If like me you love Radox, you can always steal borrow some when he isn't looking! Shhh! I won't tell if you don't!

If a relaxing soak in the bathtub isn't quite what you're looking for,  the Dove Men + Care duo gift pack would be make an ideal alternative. The Daily Care Duo includes a Clean Comfort anti-perspirant deodorant which 48 hr protection against odour and sweat, and a Clean Comfort shower gel with MICROMOISTURE technology to protect the skin from drying out. This is the perfect set if you like your partner to smell clean and fresh - I know I do!

I definitely think any of these products would make fabulous Father's Day gifts and even better for me and Holly they won't leave our purses or piggy banks empty! 

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Review - Little Big Songs by Jerry & Co

We all know toddlers love music, well mine does anyway! My 2 year old Holly loves listening to new songs and learning to sing and dance along to music.

 That's why I was thoroughly delighted to review Little Big Songs, an album of music made specifically with preschoolers in mind.

The album consists of 11 delightful songs on a variety of themes. The CD comes with an accompanying lyrics booklet complete with some lovely illustrations which makes it almost look like a little story book! The first time we listened to the songs we did it with the booklet in hand so we could read the lyrics and look at the pictures as we sang. Holly thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

We've been listening to the CD for a few weeks now and on numerous occasions Holly has asked that I put the CD on for her. So as far as she is concerned it's clearly passed the toddler test!

As for me, I really enjoy this CD too. I often find music aimed at toddlers can be rather annoying and a tad repetitive, often with silly or nonsensical lyrics. However, I don't feel this is the case with Little Big Songs at all. Each song tells a story and the tunes and melodies are lovely.

Our particular favourites on the CD are the opening song "Scrub-a-Dub" which is a fun little song which we've made our own actions to. We also really enjoyed "In the Family", "What's the Time Mr. Wolf" and "Pipes and Taps".

We tended to favour the more up tempo songs (like the ones I've listed above) but there is a good mix of styles on the CD. There are some slower songs that would be perfect for quiet time with your toddler or even to play before bedtime. In particular the songs "Ladybird, Ladybird" and the delightful "Goodnight, Mr Moon".

Overall this is a great CD for anyone with children of preschool age. I'd definitely recommend it if you are looking for some music for your child, but it would also make a great gift too. I certainly think Holly and I will be enjoying these songs for a long time to come!

* I received this CD for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Adventures in Potty Training

We've had the potty since Holly was 1 and for the longest time we've talked about potty training. Yet one thing or another keeps getting in the way.  Colds, and teething and the horrific accompanying acid teething poo of terror. I certainly didn't want to start potty training when there was a risk that my home would be pebble-dashed with that hideousness. Then there were holidays and days out and life. All getting in the way. There's always an excuse not to start.

Well, the teeth are all here now (thank God) and the big girl pants have been purchased and we're going cold turkey on the nappies. RIGHT NOW. Holly is currently strutting her stuff in a pair of rather fetching Peppa Pig pants and eyeing the potty suspiciously wondering why I've suddenly moved it from the bathroom.

Of course we've talked about it to her, we've had many dry runs at sitting on the potty, but there still hasn't been a piddle in the potty. She's sneaky like that. Happily sitting astride the potty, proudly pretending to pee then waiting until we put her nappy is back on to do a real one.  Well, no more. I will not be outwitted by a toddler. Today there will be a potty full of pee. I'm determined and we will be holed up in the house until further notice. Thankfully it's chucking it down outside (just another beautiful Scottish Summer day) so we aren't missing much.

I predict over the next few days there will be tears, bribery, more tears, carpet shampooing and excessive consumption of chocolate based foods. Do you have any words of encouragement for me? Please tell me I'll make it out of this alive, with my sanity still intact?
Wednesday, 7 May 2014

What I Ate Wednesday - The Slimming World Edition!

Welcome to What I Ate Wednesday!

I've had to cheat a bit this week, as I knew I was going to be super busy this Wednesday and wouldn't have time to photograph and edit. So these are actually my meals from Tuesday! Hope you don't mind!


 Today I chose 3 ingredient pancakes for breakfast. A lot of SW people swear by the yogurt pancakes (muller light, egg and oats) and while I do like those, I prefer to make mine slightly differently. I feel it's a bit of a waste of yogurt as I don't think it really enhances the taste of the pancakes. Instead I prefer using oats (27g), mashed banana and eggs (x2). As I've mentioned before some people like to syn mashed banana but in this recipe I don't. Mainly because I only use one banana and if I hadn't mashed it I would have probably had a whole banana later in the day (without syns) anyway! Anyway, these pancakes are hugely filling and this recipe makes three huge pancakes. I topped my pancakes with a drizzle of Agave Syrup (0.5 syns per level teaspoon). I only managed to eat one and a half pancakes because they were so big. Maybe next time I'll make a half the amount of pancake batter!


 One of my favourite lunches! I'm a bit obsessed with Warburtons Sandwich Thins. Unfortunately they can't be counted as a Healthy Extra. Luckily they are only 5 syns each though and in my opinion they are well worth it! Today I have ham, 30% less fat cheddar and tomato. 


 I was looking forward to this all day long! Pulled pork served with homemade savoury rice and roasted vegetables*. I made my pork yesterday in the slow cooker and the delicious smell has been driving me mad. Pulled Pork is another one of my obsessions at the moment and I could probably eat it every single day if I let myself. If you fancy making this, the recipe is available on the SW website.

*Apologies that I didn't take a pic of the roasted veg - it was in a side dish and I forgot!


Only carrot crudités today. I've been so full thanks to my huge breakfast and dinner I haven't been feeling too peckish at all. 


Warburtons Sandwich Thin - 5 SYNS 

1 tsp Agave Syrup - 0.5 SYNS

So that's my What I Ate Wednesday. What did you eat today?

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Where Did You Go?

I didn't notice as you started to change. As he attached himself to you and started to change your view. Still, everyone changes though don't they?

Then you started to talk differently. Your outlook changed. Positivity disappeared. Defensiveness and bitterness growing like a weeds around you. Choking out the last pieces of you that I knew. It got so I could barely reach you, but still I tried to cling on.

They started dropping like flies. Your friends. Your family. As one by one your actions became stranger. I stood by you. Saw it from a neutral position. I tried to mediate. I apologised for you. I tried to build bridges for you, but every time you burned them.

According to you there was only ever one side. Yours. I see now you wanted me to be like you. To turn my back on everyone but you. I could not. Would not.  Then came the day I knew in my heart would come. You would not tolerate my tolerance any more. For the last time you asked me to choose. To walk away with you and leave everything else behind. Yet still I would not choose. So you chose for me. You cut me out of your life like all those before me. Like I was a wart. Vile. To be removed and never thought of again.

I tried to reason with you, but the girl who could be reasoned with had gone. Someone else I really didn't know stood in her place.  Would I do it differently if I had the chance again? No. My decision would be the same.  I could never give up everything I knew for someone I did not know anymore.

Yet still I miss you. The real you. The you who went on thrilling teenage midnight walks, of talking until the sun came up, of shared Saturday jobs and trying to be grown ups in fishnet tights and dog collars at the local rock club.

A fixture in my life for so long. I wonder if you really could have simply disappeared before my eyes.  I can't believe that you are gone forever.  That you aren't still somewhere, the girl you used to be.  So if you're there, if you come back...know that I am still here. Your friend. Even if you can't make it all the way, then maybe we could meet in the middle. Maybe find a new route to get to where we once were.  I'm holding my hand out, I'd love for you to take it. Whatever path you choose, I wish you well.

Gel polish at home - Red Carpet Manicure Review

Before I became a mummy I used to love doing my nails.  I don't have the nicest nails (they tend to split and peel very easily), so I found keeping them polished made them look much better.  However, if you read my blog you'll know I'm quite partial to a bit lots of cleaning and tidying and I can be terribly hard on my hands and nails, so I would always find my nail polish would chip really easily and quickly, even when I used really high quality polish.  I didn't mind that too much though, as I always had plenty of time to re-paint them. Or I could go and get Shellac or Gellish which lasted weeks.  Now I'm simply too busy to either do my own nails repeatedly or even to go and have them done professionally.  So I started looking at a variety of at home gel nail kits. However I found most were so expensive I couldn't really justify the cost,  I was really staring to think I would never find an affordable one. Until recently that is. I think I may just have found exactly what I was looking for. The best of both worlds. Affordable, at home gel nails that actually last! So like me you are a thrifty lady in need of a money saving manicure or  just a no-chip nail polish solution, read on...

 I'd like to introduce you to...Red Carpet Manicure.

The Packaging


"Red Carpet Manicure allows you to achieve salon quality gel manicures at home. This professional brand features a wide range of on trend nails colours for beautiful manicures that last weeks without chipping!"

Imagine my excitement when I saw this! I was straight onto the website choosing my kit!


There are 2 different starter kits to choose from.  Both contain exactly the same products:

  • Portable LED Light (requires 4 x AA batteries, not included)
  • PURIFY Pre & Post Application Cleanser (59ml)
  • PREP Max Adhesion Sanitizer (9ml)
  • STRUCTURE Base Coat Gel (9ml)
  • BRILLIANCE Seal & Shine Top Coat Gel (9ml)
  • ERASE Gel Nail Polish Remover (59ml)
  • LED Gel Polish (9ml) in Red Carpet Reddy

 the only difference being the LED curing light.

The Professional Kit (£89.95)  - Contains a professional quality LED light which has a timer function and is powered by mains electricity. This LED is designed to provide rapid curing.  Curing takes 45 seconds for each coat of polish.

The Portable Kit (£59.95) - Contains a smaller, less powerful LED light, which has no timer and is powered by AA batteries (which are not included). Curing with the portable kit takes 2-3 mins per coat of polish.

As the products in each kit were exactly the same I opted for the cheaper portable kit.  I didn't mind using a less powerful LED light, it just meant my manicure would take a few minutes longer.  I don't mind the extra time if it saves me £30!

Portable LED


When my kit arrived and I couldn't wait to get started!   I set out all the products in the order I would use them. I made sure to read the instructions a few times just to make sure I understood the process.

The process is very easy and fairly quick. 

I used the Purify cleanser on a tissue to remove any excess dust and oil. The next step was applying Prep, a sanitizer that dries the nail surface out for better adhesion.

I then applied Structure, the basecoat. The first thing I noticed is that it is thicker than actual nail polish and had a very sticky consistency so it was a little difficult to achieve the thin coat the instructions recommend. It takes 1 minute to cure but you have to do it in three steps (four fingers right hand, two thumbs together, four fingers left hand), as 5 fingers of a hand won't ideally all fit in the LED curer at once Apart from that, the LED worked fine, the light even has a swivel feature to angle whichever way best suits you and little grooves to rest your fingers (or toes) on. It was very easy to use.

The next step was applying a thin layer of the colour. I cured the first coat for 3 minutes because it's a darker colour (lighter colours take 2 minutes). I then repeated this process for the second (thin coat) coat.  The colour I used was RED CARPET REDDY, the colour supplied with the kit.  This is a lovely bright shade of red.  I was slightly worried that the polish might be the same consistency as the basecoat, but it was fine.  The polish applies smoothly in a few strokes of the brush.  It didn't appear streaky, but you definitely need 2 coats to get a nice deep red.  A word of caution though, if you aren't confident in applying nail polish a red probably isn't the best colour to start with as any mistakes you make will be clearly visible!  I would recommend in that case you buy a pale pink or nude colour while you get the hang of it.

Once I was done I applied the Brilliance topcoat and cured again for 2 minutes. The nail polish remains tacky through the WHOLE process, right up until the very end so be very careful not to touch anything while doing your nails (you really need to set aside the time to do the full manicure in one go). After I'd cured the topcoat I put some more Purity on a tissue and wiped the nails smooth. I'm not sure how, but after this step the tackiness magically vanished. Initially I had been a bit dubious as to whether all the prep and finishing products were truly necessary but it seems that you definitely need to use the Purify with your manicure. You cannot skip this step, or ANYTHING you touch will stick to your nails!

Et Viola! The finished nails were super shiny and smooth!


Despite the LED being so easy to use and being able to angle it, I found that where you had applied polish to seal the free edge of your nail (to further minimise the risk of chipping) wouldn't cure as well on some of my nails. The LED either wasn't reaching it properly due to the angle or perhaps the LED was not strong enough?


Obviously I currently have no idea how long my finished manicure will last, but I will update the review in a week or so to let you all know the verdict.  I will say now though that I am very impressed with the kit.  The manicure easy to apply and the instructions were very thorough too.  The whole process was relatively quick even with the slower portable LED ( 15 mins at first attempt which I think isn't bad and I should get faster with practice).  The finished look is just beautiful.  My nails look super smooth and glossy (when in reality under the polish they are in awful condition)! They feel super strong too, just like a salon job! Overall I think this kit provides excellent value for money.  The purchase price is covered in what it would have cost me for 2 or 3 salon gel manicures!  Even if the finish doesn't last quite as long as they claim I'll still be pleased as I don't think I'd get a better alternative for this price.  Also, I'm hoping to try the top coat over some of my favourite ordinary polishes to extend the wear time, so if that works I'll be over the moon!  At home gel manicure?  I THINK I'VE NAILED IT! My best beauty buy this year so far! Thank you RED CARPET MANICURE!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Scottish Independence - Courage, Cowardice or Stupidity?

The day is coming. The day is coming. I'll head to the polling station and what I choose to do WILL change my future. Our future. That may or may not be a good thing.

So what do we do? Do we stay governed by those we most certainly didn't vote for, knowing what they have done and continue to do to the UK?

Should we stay, when we have a chance to break free? Even if that means heading into the unknown?

Will we be left out in the cold? No monetary union, no EU membership. How do we begin to build our own currency? Who would help us? Who would be our allies?

Yet if we don't, is it cowardice? Will we become a joke? If we are perceived as weak, will we be punished for having ever had the audacity to consider going it alone?

There are so many unanswered questions and so many that are answered. Yet so many of those answers fall into the category of speculation or opinion. Expert opinion, yes. Yet opinion all the same.

I look on independence in the same way I look at a new business start up. There are no guarantees.

Even the best business models can fail, but they can also be successful. There are no guarantees.

So what do you do? Stay in the dead end job, or take the leap of faith?  What would you do? For you, for your family, and for your future?

*disclaimer - I'm not really a political animal by nature. I do not claim to know anything about politics. This is about the closest thing you'll get to a political opinion from me. It's extremely simplistic, if not entirely stupid. So if you've come here to start a political debate, I suggest you jog on. There is nothing of interest for you here!

How Clean Is Your House - I Don't Care!

Hello, my name is Lynn and I'm a neat freak. It's likely that if you arranged to come and visit me the carpets would be freshly hoovered, the kitchen floor would be mopped, glass would be cleaned and cushions would be plumped. It's just what I do.

Yet I'm annoyed. I recently read a blog where someone suggested they could never be friends with someone like me, a mum with a tidy house (apologies - I couldn't actually remember who wrote that original blog post). I've read posts on Facebook too, berating people (especially mums) for having a clean and tidy home. Apparently if I take time to tidy my house I'm missing spending quality time with my child. Apparently I'm not fun.

I know it's daft, but statements and blogs like this make me feel I have to justify myself. So I'm going to. First of all, I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting your home to be nice. That's all I want. A nice environment to live in for my child, and for me. However, to say I prioritise housework over the care of my child is utter nonsense. Every single day my daughter and I read, draw, paint, bake, dance, visit the park, sing, play with toys, play hide and seek. You name it, we do it. Where possible, I plan my cleaning around my daughter. So if she is napping or having a snack or after she's gone to bed you will most likely find me completing a household task. Sometimes when that's not possible we'll do some housework together. Holly loves to help me with the washing and think it's a great way to help teach her colours too! She also loves to help me dust and often asks to do it without any prompting. I think it's good to get her involved in housework now because when she is older she will be expected to do housework to earn her pocket money. Doesn't sound like such a bad thing really does it?

For the record though, even though I have a tidy house most of the time it does get messy with a toddler. Of course it does. How could it not? You'll find every floor strewn with toys. EVERY DAY. You just won't find dishes in the sink or cobwebs in the corners. Then when it's Holly's bedtime the toys disappear. They are stored away. I like to turn my house into a nice adult place to relax in the evenings. Again, I don't see what's so awful about this?

There is some suggestion that because I have a tidy house I judge others who don't. I think that's really what the whole thing boils down to. Well I can honestly tell you I don't. Not at all. You're not me, and I'm not you. I've always been a neat freak, I've always been fastidious. Just because I became a mum that was never going to change. It's part of my personality, a trait ingrained in me. I do it because I want to, but that doesn't mean I expect anyone else to. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so, but it's part of what makes me, ME. It genuinely upsets me that someone would judge me for having a tidy house. Judge me as not worthy of their friendship. Would dismiss me, without knowing anything more about me than the state of my home. I would never do that to someone else. Reduce a person to one part of their life*. It's narrow minded and I most certainly think that is far worse than than being either messy or tidy!

*Well unless they were something hideous like a serial killer in their free time.

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Wednesday, 2 April 2014

What I Ate Wednesday - The Slimming World Edition!

Welcome to What I Ate Wednesday!


Slimming World overnight oats. If you've never tried or heard of these they are simple to prepare and really delicious. It's just 28g of oats (HEXB), a Muller Light Yogurt (or I use Lidl low fat instead). Put them together in a sealed container and pop them in the fridge overnight.  I used a strawberry yogurt and added some sliced banana in the morning. You can use any yogurt and fruit you like really!

Quick tip - I like my oats a bit runnier so often add a splash of almond milk if I have it. Almond milk is a great addition on SW. Did you know you can have between 875ml (Blue Diamond) and 950ml (Alpro) unsweetened almond milk as a HEXA choice? That's loads, so you could easily use it to make something tasty like SW rice pudding!


Baked potato with a dollop of Philadelphia extra light and topped with lots of roasted veggies. This used to be my favourite bagel filling so I just switched to using it on a potato instead. The vegetables I used were garlic, peppers, onion (try to use red onion if you have it) and courgette. I would usually have mushrooms too but had none left today. 


Couscous Jambalaya. One of my favourite foods is Jambalaya but I make mine with couscous as it's much quicker that way. I can have it ready to eat in under 30 mins. I have had to alter my recipe to make a SW friendly version so have excluded certain ingredients like oil and sausage. I try to pack in as much veg as I can to this dish and it's always delicious. I know a lot of people don't like couscous but I can assure you this is nothing like ordinary couscous. So why not give it a try?


One tangerine (I'm a bit addicted to the ones from M&S, they are so sweet and juicy)

One homemade SW flapjack. Check out my recipe HERE. They're great and you only need 3 ingredients!


SW flapjack - 2.5 syns

So that's my What I Ate Wednesday. What did you eat today?

Slimming World Flapjacks

I absolutely love flapjacks. Unfortunately they just happen to be about a million calories each, so I really don't want to waste my SYNS on such a small amount of food! No matter how much I love them! So instead I've come up with my own alternative recipe which I think turned out quite well and is ridiculously simple.  I thought I should share it with you all.

Slimming World Flapjacks

120g oats (about 20 syns)

2-4 tablespoons Agave Nectar (2 tbsps is 3 syns)

56g mashed banana (3 syns)

Simply mix it all together in a bowl then spread in a small baking tray which has been lightly coated with fry light to stop it sticking. I baked it at 150 degrees until it started to brown at the edges. 


And that's it! I sliced mine into 12 pieces which I'd say were fairly large. So depending on how much Agave nectar you use (depends on how sweet you want them) they would be between 2 - 2.5 syns per slice. I don't normally syn mashed banana but I thought I would on this occasion just to give you an idea of the syn values.

Now, I think these slices are yummy. They aren't quite the same texture as a real flapjack but I think they are a good substitute and will be making them again. You could definitely add some more fruit or for a few more syns why not add some chocolate chips or a drizzle of chocolate on top! I hope you like them as much as I do.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Asbestos Awareness Week

Recently I was contacted by an amazing woman called Heather Von St. James. She asked for my help. This brilliant woman is a cancer survivor and here is her story.

"At age 36, I was diagnosed with mesothelioma just 3 ½ months after my first and only child, Lily, was born. I was given just 15 months to live unless I underwent a drastic surgery to remove my left lung. Miraculously, I beat the odds and I’m still here eight years later. Asbestos is not banned in the US, yet it’s the only known cause of mesothelioma. I was exposed to asbestos through my fathers work jacket when I was just a little girl; my diagnosis came about 30 years later. Once diagnosed, most patients die within 2 years. I am one of few survivors who openly share their story and works to spread awareness regarding the dangers of asbestos."

Heather's bravery and determination to share her story to raise awareness of the dangers of Asbestos is awe inspiring.

Heather lives in the US where the use of Asbestos is not banned. Like many other countries including Canada and Russia (and all over the world), people are still being exposed to the dangers of Asbestos every day. However even in the UK where the use of this dangerous substance is now banned, death from exposure to asbestos is still the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the country. My partner David and I have both worked within the UK building trade and have seen colleagues and friends tragically affected by exposure to Asbestos. So this is something which is very close to our hearts. Asbestos is hugely dangerous and many people are simply unaware that they are being exposed to something which could be potentially life threatening.  That's where we can help.

So what can you do? 

1-7th of April is Asbestos Awareness Week.

Visit Heather's Website to find out more.  

Email your friends. 

Tweet it. 

Share on Facebook. 

You might not think it's much, but you can make a difference. You can help. To keep someone safe. To keep someone free from disease. To keep someone alive.Thank you for reading.

What I Ate Wednesday - The Slimming World Edition!

It's Wednesday, which means it's time for another What I Ate Wednesday blog post!


2 Quorn sausages, mushroom and tomato (all grilled) and a few generous spoonfuls of baked beans. Black coffee with Splenda.

Firstly, apologies for the presentation! My tomatoes got a little bit burnt as I was in a rush this morning! Holly and I have Playgroup on Wednesday mornings and we were running late so things didn't quite go to plan!

I do like to have a cooked breakfast every so often so this SW friendly version is great. I would normally have bacon as well but I forgot to defrost it last night so had to do without! You'll also notice I haven't made any eggs either. I'm really not fond of eggs at all. I hate the smell of egg and I find the texture of egg white really unpleasant. I can eat things like quiche and scrambled eggs, but as long as I can't taste the egg if that makes any sense?  As for the coffee, I'm really unable to function until I've had my caffeine! I tend to only have 1-2 cups per day though, and never after 3pm. If I did I would never sleep at night!


Despite not having any bacon, breakfast was very filling and this helped me avoid wasting my Syns on biscuits at playgroup! Even by lunchtime I still wasn't hugely hungry. So I'm afraid today's lunch was a bit boring. I opted to just have a MugShot and a banana! Not very exciting I know, so I decided not to bother with a photo of it! However, I promise you my dinner will be a lot more interesting!


Slimming World KFC Chicken! Yes, you heard me right. KFC CHICKEN...and it's SYN FREE*! I found this recipe on the Minimins forums (which are a godsend for interesting recipes if you are on SW) & I have been dying to try it out. I altered the recipe slightly to suit what ingredients I had in the house.  If you want to try the original recipe you can find it HERE. The only things I didn't include were the Bovril & the Maggi. I also used chicken breasts instead of drumsticks. Most people serve this with salad and /or SW chips but I opted for roasted veggies instead. I have to say, it was very tasty and very filling! The coating was beautifully crispy and unlike real KFC it wasn't greasy at all.  I will definitely be having this again, but next time I will try making it with the Bovril and Maggi to see if I can make it even tastier!


Lidl Mint Choc fat free yoghurt


2 x Quorn Sausages = 2 syns

Yoghurt = 2.5 syns**

What did you eat this Wednesday ?

 * Some SW people suggest that if you use Smash (instant mash) as a coating for KFC chicken then it should be given a Syn value as you are not using it in the normal way. I don't feel this is necessary. I used less than I would to make a normal portion of Smash (which would be free) so using it as Syns makes no sense to me at all!  Syn it or don't Syn it though, it's your choice!

**Just a quick note about the Lidl yoghurts. They are delicious and cheaper than the Muller yoghurts. I believe the fat free cherry and strawberry varieties are syn free but all other flavours are 2.5 syns.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Cancer Awareness Selfie

I'm sick of it. Absolutely sick of seeing it. Not the selfies. The negativity, all those bemoaning this trend. All those holier than thou individuals, particularly on Twitter. Calling it self indulgent, misguided, narsissistic. Asking exactly what a no make up selfie has to do with raising Cancer Awareness. Saying people should donate rather than taking a selfie. You know what I say? Shame on you!

I'm aware that a small minority of people shared their selfies without any mention of charity or raising awareness, but so what? The majority of selfies I saw where positive and uplifting. People sharing their stories about how cancer affected them, telling others how to check for symptoms and giving people information on how to make donations. I took a selfie and shared it on Facebook too. I text BEAT to 70099 and donated £3 to Cancer Research. I reminded people to check their knockers too. Job done. Now if that, the briefest glance at my message on Facebook could encourage someone to check their breasts then isn't that great? If it prompts someone else to donate, then isn't that great too?

I understand the cynicism. I do, but there are always going to be some people who don't do things for the right reasons. There will always be some who don't get the point, but who are we to them judge everyone who took part? Overall I believe this trend has had a hugely positive effect.

So to anyone who's moaning, looking down their nose at these selfies. Put your money where your mouth is. Donate, share and show us all how it's meant to be done then, but keep your negativity to yourself. It achieves nothing.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

What I Ate Wednesday - The Slimming World Edition!

Welcome to my very first What I Ate Wednesday! I decided to start doing this because I thought it would be easier than picking my favourite SW meals from the week to share in a post with you. Doing a post on a full day of Slimming World eating will probably give you a better idea of how this way of eating works on a day by day basis. Hopefully it will illustrate how wonderful, filling and easy to follow SW is! So without further ado, here is what I've been tucking into this Wednesday!


2 X  Alpen Light bars. 2 of these delicious bars can count as your Healthy Extra B choice. I believe if you don't want to use them as your HEB they would have a Syn value of 3.5 per bar.

Quick tip - I occasionally crumble one into a low fat vanilla yogurt. It's a great treat!


Slimming World super speed soup and a banana. I really love this soup! I know some people prefer to blend it, but I love the chunky texture. A very filling lunch!


Homemade Quorn lasagne.  Normally I would make lasagne with lean beef mince but I didn't have any and I always have a stash of Quorn products in my freezer so I decided to use my Quorn Mince for a change! I made sure to add lots of veg, carrot, celery, mushrooms, peppers, onion and courgette.

Quick tip - I didn't do it on this occasion but sometimes when making Lasagne I will also substitute the pasta layers for vegetables instead. You can use leeks (but you need to boil those to soften them first) or roasted peppers and courgettes. I personally think the latter makes a much tastier lasagne. I was just far too lazy to do it this time!


Lidl low fat strawberry yoghurt
Options hot chocolate (Belgian Chocolate flavour)


Not many today. Just  2 for my hot chocolate and another couple for the Philadelphia I used for the Lasagne topping. Although, since I didn't eat the whole lasagne it might be less!

So there you have it! What did you eat this Wednesday?

Post Comment Love
Thursday, 13 March 2014

All That Glitters...

Anyone who follows me on Twitter will probably already know me feelings on these:

Glitter wine glasses and bottles. In a word - HIDEOUS!  I really cannot even begin to understand why anyone would want to make these or buy them. That's right, people are BUYING these. For themselves or as gifts for others. I shudder at the thought that someone might buy one for me. Eurgh.

Why do I hate them so much you ask? Let me explain....

Firstly, I cannot think why anyone would pay someone to make one. It's not difficult or expensive. Buy a crap bottle of wine and a cheap wine glass (think ASDA smartprice), add some Modge Podge glue and some hideous glitter of your choice and that's it! So why are people on Facebook still clamouring to buy these things for ridiculous amounts of money?

Secondly, once you've downed your Echo Falls White Zinfandel are you really going to keep an empty wine bottle? Really? Are you going to display it with the glass in pride of place somewhere in your home? I wouldn't. I'm an adult. The last time I had something glittery on display was probably when I was a teenager and had Take That and E17 posters adorning my walls! Oh the shame...

Are you aware that very much like sand, GLITTER GETS EVERYWHERE? It's almost impossible to remove it entirely from anything. It doesn't matter how much you brush, sweep, wipe, Hoover or scrub. You'll still find bits of glitter around your home. Even if it came from a glittery Christmas Card someone once sent you in 1992. I swear that glitter has a longer half life than nuclear waste. I certainly don't want to drink out of something glittery. Who wants to end up with a mouthful or faceful of glitter? DISGUSTING!

I hate the idea of these as much as the item itself. Yeah! I'm a woman! So I must like ALL THINGS GLITTER! All women LOVE bloody glitter! We just love sparkly things! Ohhhh shiny things! I want! I want! I want! NOOOOOOO! I'm a woman, not a bloody magpie!

Am I being harsh? Maybe, but it's just how I feel. I'm not a fan of glitter/sparkly things at all really. Some glittery things I can cope with. Like glittery/sparkly shoes. They're ok. Sparkly dress, that's cool. A crystal chandelier, why not?  But glittery wine glasses, over my dead body. So please, never ever give me the gift of a glitter wine glass. Seriously, JUST DON'T.

Post Comment Love
Friday, 28 February 2014

Two Years Two Months

Two years and two months.

My little lady.

I've been lucky blessed to be able to spend my days watching you grow.

I've rarely been far from your side since you came into my life.

I used to believe it was because you needed me, but maybe the opposite is true.

The time has come to register you for nursery.

So now you are preparing to spread your wings and broaden your horizons. Even if just a little bit.

We visited the other day, and as you ran and explored you barely gave a backward glance.

My heart aches for you. Knowing that I have to let you leave this nest. To fly free.

You've always been an independent little lady. Even as a baby. You never wanted to lie down, to chill, or snooze or snuggle.

You wanted had to sit up and absorb it all. Interact. Get stuck right in.

You always wanted to do everything yourself. To assert your independence. You never gave up trying. Not until you achieved your goal.

I love that about you. Yet it pains me.

So young to be so grown up.

So little to be so independent.

I've rarely been far from your side since you came into my life.

My little lady.

Two years and two months.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Slimming World - Sensible Syns!

I've been doing a lot of research online for Slimming World recipes since I started a few weeks ago, and I'm amazed at some of the creative recipes I've come across so far. Especially some of the Syn free alternatives to what would normally be a fairly high Syn meal/food.

Examples of the type of food I mean are:

SMASH pizza
Banana ice cream
Cous Cous cake
Slimming world microwave crisps

I did notice that while most people agreed that these foods are SYN free, other SW dieters argued otherwise. Let me explain.

Most people would not normally make a pizza with instant mashed potato or a cake with cous cous. There is the suggestion that if you process certain ingredients in a way they would not normally be used, you may over eat them.

Say for example, you wouldn't normally eat 3 bananas in a row would you? Or if you did you would probably be full and wouldn't eat any more? However if you freeze then blend banana to make ice cream it is very likely you could potentially eat a lot more.

It's the same with making SW crisps. You would be full after eating a certain amount of whole potatoes, but when you make them into crisps you would probably end up eating a lot more.

So this is why people argue that foods like these should be given a SYN value. However, I disagree. Surely it's all about portion control? I like banana on toast, sometimes sliced and sometimes mashed if the banana is ripe. So effectively I would have to use my Syns for banana on toast if I mashed the banana, but not if I sliced it? Even though I would be using the same amount of banana? I'm sure you see the problem. That's just silly. I say if you want to eat the above foods without using them as SYNS, then do it! As long as you check that the portion size isn't much larger than it should be. Personally I would only SYN these foods if I planned to have a big portion.  Surely it's common sense that if you use more instant mash than a single serving size so you can have a massive pizza, you are going to be having a lot more calories?  Similarly, if you make a Cous Cous cake and then eat the entire cake to yourself it's hardly going to help you lose weight is it? You still have to consider portion size.

I can see why some SW people are cautious when it comes to some of the recipes, but as long as you are sensible, surely it's up the individual how they choose to follow SW? If they can still manage to eat these foods and lose weight without ever using them as SYNS I think that's fine! What do you think?

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Stepping into Slimming World!

Hello strangers! It seems I've been a bit neglectful of my blog in recent months. Sorry!

However, I'm back and ready to dust the cobwebs off for 2014!

In case the title didn't make it glaringly obvious, I've started slimming world. After Christmas I was feeling pretty down. I'd crept back up to my heaviest weight and didn't seem to be able to stop myself eating. Even though I was thoroughly miserable about my weight I just kept eating. I was lethargic, grumpy and my weight was starting to make my ever present back pain even worse.

I really didn't know what to do. I didn't want to try any faddy diets, as I've fallen foul of those before. Cutting things out of my diet simply made me obsess about "forbidden" foods and gorge on them whenever I got the chance. That's where Twitter came to my rescue. I noticed a few weeks ago that several of my twitter friends had joined Slimming World. They would post pictures of their meals and I was hugely surprised not only by how delicious they looked, but also the generous portion sizes!

So I started looking into it for myself, to see if the plan was really as easy to follow as it looked. I have to say I was more than pleasantly surprised. Unlike Weight Watchers where EVERYTHING has to be pointed and weighed, on SW the majority of the food you can eat can be eaten freely. With the exception of a few foods which are assigned a SYN value. Each day you have a 15 SYN allowance so if you feel like you need a little treat you don't have to worry about it.

My mind was made up. I decided I would try it out...

So here I am about to start my second week, and I can honestly say I have not been hungry once. Which is usually a big issue for me when I try to lose weight. I can still eat reasonably large portions & I really don't feel deprived of anything since no foods are actually forbidden!

Another thing I'm enjoying since starting SW is the variety. The majority of food you eat on SW is homemade and I although I do like to cook I felt that I had gotten into a rut in terms of meal ideas before. I used to eat the same meals week in week out and wasn't really appreciating what I was eating as a result. SW offers lots of different meal ideas. If anything I actually struggle to decide what to make because there are so many new recipes I'm dying to try out!

As I go on with Slimming World I would like to share my favourite recipes, but if you'd like an example of the type of meals I've been able to have since starting SW here you are:

Pulled Pork
Cooked breakfast
Breakfast banana pancakes
Banana Ice Cream
Chicken Saag (curry)
Creamy Carbonara
Chow Mein

So doesn't it sound great? I feel very confident about being able to continue with SW for as long as I need to. I suppose only time will tell though, but I look forward to sharing my journey with you. So if there are any other Slimming World people out there I'd love to hear from you!


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